Walking at Garland Ranch – Carmel

Before our recent trip to Monterey Peninsula, Mike studied a map of the area. That’s how we found Jack’s Peak and how we wound up at Garland Ranch Regional Park. Both great finds for us. Here’s a link to Jack’s Park and here is some of our visit to Garland Ranch Park.

We drove out Carmel Valley Rd, east from Hwy 1 in Carmel. (There is a Carmel Valley farther out this road – but not the ‘San Diego’ Carmel Valley.)  We parked and entered down some steps to a summer bridge over the Carmel River. (The year-round entrance is to the right or downstream from here.)

Garland Park Entrance summer bridge

Along a flat dirt path to the right we passed a lush riparian area with willows, tall blooming hedge nettles, bee plant, blooming buckeyes, miners lettuce, and a vetch type bloom – that we found out was called fumitory – white blossom with red tips.

In a short distance was a shiny new Visitor Center. Displays of some wildflowers (to continue our identifying education from the Pacific Grove Wildflower Show), an art exhibit and an enthusiastic docent were part of the fun the Center.

Garland Ranch Visitor Center Outside is a picnic area and new plantings of native plants.

Garland picnic near Visitor Ctr

Thanks to the helpful docent we started off on Lupine Loop. We always look for flat shorter walks, but there are over 50 miles of trails in the area. Some of them go uphill and run along Snively’s Ridge.
Garland trail

Meadows were full of lupines and poppies, blue dicks, blue-eyed grass and common vetch. Oaks dotted the meadows, while cottonwood and sycamores lined another area before the hills. Besides losing the pictures of fumitory, we lost the pictures of huge bushes of poison oak in full bloom. Giant poison oak – as I’ve never seen it.

Garland vetch meadow

Garland trail id

Here, we turned off on Cottonwood Trail.Garland trail splitAnother upland trail – we took a pass.

Garland meadow trail mtn

Sometimes the vegetation was lush. Mike had a picture of a meadow full of lupines with a sign stating ‘Restoration in Progress’. It appeared the restoration had been most successful. We also saw goldfields and chinese houses.

Sometimes the wildflowers worked hard for their displays.


Generally, the place seemed lush – though it was undoubtedly headed for some drier times this summer. Now, we could enjoy this green view under a huge oak.
Garland bench view

Then we continued our walk back to the Visitor Center. I can imagine in rainy winters the river can fill these meadows. I won’t be here then, but

Garland Ranch trail back

if we lived in the area, we’d come almost every day. There’s so much more park to see and I’m sure the wildflower variations change.

Garland Ranch Fiddleneck

Disclaimer: We only explored a small portion of this 3400 acre park. There are other entrances, bicycling and horseback riding available. Please check with the park for more information. The park provides various tours of the ex-ranch.

Words and Pictures by Lynn Millar

Location: Garland Ranch Regional Park 700 West Carmel Valley Road (approx 8.6 miles east of Highway 1 or 1 mile west of Laureles Grade)

Trail Map

Hours: 7 days/week, sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Wheelchair: Certainly some of the lower trails. Use main entrance – not the summer bridge. Actually, I didn’t check this out. Call the park district (831) 372-3196 because there’s not positive information on access, but not that you couldn’t either.

Picnic: Near the Visitor Center

Benches: Scattered through the park.

Bathroom: near the Visitor Center – flush, cold water.


Published by Lynn Millar

Walker, reader, writer, traveller - see About Walking

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